To change your Fender Stratocaster setup to get the correct string height, you may have to adjust the tremolo settings, truss rod, saddle height and string height at the first fret. See how it's done in this free video on instrument tuning and maintenance.
Hi, I'm Ryan Lynn of East Side Guitar Repair. And today, we're going to discuss how to adjust the string height on a Stratocaster, under Stratocaster. And more specifically, how to do a setup. So, the first thing you want to do is, tune your guitar to pitch. So, connecting it to a tuner, you tune it up. So, as you can see, some of the strings in this, don't play so well. So, we need to prepare it, to tune to pitch. So, what I'll do, is I'll take a stack of business cards, about five business cards. And I'll move the tremolo up, using a screwdriver. And set the business cards underneath the tremolo, like that. Next, I'll take a screwdriver, and I'll tighten down the tremolo claw that holds the tremolo springs. So that you have good downward pressure on these business cards. Next, I'll look and I'll see if there's any relief in the neck, this one doesn't have any relief. Relief is the bow in the neck, so what you want, is a little bit of bow. And this one happens to be back bowed. So, next, I'll go ahead and adjust the truss rod, in this case, loosening it. So, I grab my truss rod wrench, and I'll loosen just a quarter turn at a time. Now, keep checking relief by using a string as a straight edge, against the frets. And I'll fret the first fret and the twelfth fret. And look at the gap in between the sixth fret and the bottom of the string. Just one little loose in there. And I'm starting to get a little bit of relief, or a little bit of bow in the neck, which is good. O.k., I have the relief set and now, I bring back to pitch. Now, that you've adjusted your truss rod properly. The next step would be to roughen the saddle height of all your saddles. And after you've had them roughed in to the proper radius of the finger board, into the proper height of the twelfth fret. You would then continue on to the nut. And that's when you would use nut files to adjust the string height at the nut, to the first fret. Your next step would be to intonate the guitar with the saddles. And you want to make sure that the first fret is in tune with the 12th fret. After I'm done intonating the guitar, I'll adjust the pick-ups to the proper height. Which is about three-sixteenths from the strings, to the top of each pulled piece. After I've adjusted the pick-ups, I'll go ahead and adjust the trem claw and loosen the trem claw. Until the business cards that we placed at the beginning of the process, fall out. And then, I'll tune each E string, using just the trem claw to pitch. And that will balance out your tremolo. After that, we'll play through the guitar and make sure it plays through and plays properly. And then, you're done. Hi, I'm Ryan Lynn of East Side Guitar Repair, and that's how you setup a Fender Stratocaster.